By Becca Eis | Echo
Each January, Taylor students travel around the world to experience different cultures. But what does it look like when students study abroad in Upland?
Taylor University's Discover program invites a select group of students from Universidad del Azuay in Cuenca, Ecuador, to our campus for a month. The past three weeks, these students have lived in dorms, taken classes taught in English, attended chapel and enjoyed interacting with Taylor students across campus.
Each of the seven students had their own motivations in coming here, including improving their English, experiencing college in the U.S. and meeting new people.
"I have friends that study here and they told me every day that I need to come because it's a really nice experience," said junior Gabriela Serrano.
The application process involved filling out forms, taking an English test and being interviewed. Finally, each student and their parents were invited to a meeting where they found out they had been accepted.
Though their college is small, the seven students met for the first time in the airport. On their campus in Ecuador, each major has its own designated building. The group of students here represent a variety of majors, including communication, engineering, biology and international studies.
All of the students had been to various parts of the U.S. before, including Florida, New York and Chicago, but had never attended college classes in the U.S. Back home, most of the students live with their families, so living in a dorm was a new experience for them. However, they have enjoyed their newfound freedom and independence, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with their new friends. The students also have especially enjoyed chapel, as it differs from what they have experienced in their Catholic background.
"I have learned a lot about living in community, and how it feels to live in the campus and share daily life with the people," said junior Cristina Lalama. "All the things they are doing with love, one feels, so continuing doing that."
Like any other study abroad student, the Ecuadorians have encountered challenges during their time here. Many of their initial fears were linked to the language barrier and the travel involved. They also have found the dining schedule difficult to adjust to. Others have experienced homesickness.
The students will return home on March 10, but are grateful for their time here and are already anticipating missing the people they have become so close to. They encourage Taylor students to visit Ecuador and experience their culture.
"Every day we pass, everything and everyone make us feel like we don't want to go back," said sophomore Daniel Delgado.